gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Greely Pirate Radio

December 04, 2009 @ 13:08 By: gordon Category: Amateur radio, In the news

The CBC had a story on the news this morning about Jayhaed Saadé, a kid in Greely who has set up an unlicensed radio station broadcasting out of his parents’ restaurant on 91.9 MHz. Industry Canada has told him to stop broadcasting immediately. The laws on this sort of thing are very clear and the penalties include fines of up to $5000 and even jail time. Predictably, a lot of people have made comments supporting the Saadé and encouraging him to continue broadcasting even without a license, but at the same time there are also people saying that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that he should stop broadcasting, at least until he obtains a license. (According to the story, Saadé didn’t know he needed a license and has said he’ll apply for one, but that he “can’t shut off the station”.)

It’s a low-power station and he’s a kid, so it’s no big deal, right?

Wrong…The big deal is that commecial broadcast stations have their frequencies allocated in a way the ensures they don’t conflict with other stations in the area and any other users of the RF spectrum. 91.9 MHz is only 400 kHz away from CBC Radio 1 (91.5 MHz), so he could in fact be causing some local interference.  Commercial transmitters are designed to prevent spurious transmissions on other frequencies. Harmoics can occur at multiples of the frequency above and below the main frequency and they can interfere with legitimate users near the harmonic frequencies. For 91.9 MHz, the first harmonic is at 183.8 MHz , which is smack in the middle of VHF television channel 8, so it’s entirely possible that he’s interfering with this signal. The second harmonic, 367.6 MHz, doesn’t appear to be near any other spectrum users in Ottawa, while the third harmonic, 735.2 MHz, is almost exactly aligned with another user on 735.25 MHz, though unless it’s a really poorly designed transmitter, it’s unlikely it would be a huge problem there. (You can browse Industry Canada’s spectrum database on their website.)

And, given his proximity to the airport (Greely is almost directly under the approach for runway 32), there are chances that he could be interfering with their operations, too, as happened in Florida not too long ago.

The fact that he’s come to the attention of Industry Canada probably means that someone complained, which means he’s likely interfering with someone.

Should he be fined? Not if he stops broadcasting, but if he continues then he should. If he does continue, I wouldn’t be surprised if Industry Canada confiscated the unlicensed transmitter.

He says he’s going to apply for a license. I’m not sure what exactly is involved in getting a low-power broadcast license, but he probably needs to read RIC 40: FAQs on Low Power FM Broadcasting and the Broadcasting Procedures and Rules, particularly Parts 1 and 3. It seems daunting, but who knows… maybe he’ll qualify.

But if he wants to use radios, he should look into becoming a licensed amateur radio operator instead.

6 Responses to “Greely Pirate Radio”

  1. gordon says:

    While wading through all the comments on the CBC story, I came across an interesting reference to VankleekFM. VankleekFM is an ultra-low power FM broadcaster located in Vankleek Hill, Ontario. Operating on 88.7 MHz, VankleekFM provides local information about things going on in Vankleek Hill. If the kid adopted this strategy, he would probably have no problems getting a license, as long as he respected the conditions of the license.

  2. Jan Pachul says:

    The kid needs some filtering on the output of his transmitter. From my own experience as an amatuer radio operator, it’s pretty easy to get off frequency spurious signals. The transmitter needs to be tested with spectrum analyzer into a dummy load with full modulation. The harmonics should be at least 30 db below the main carrier. The carrier deviation width is also real important in FM modulation.

    I’m sure that 91.9 is NOT the best frequency at that location. If you follow Industry Canada’s separation requirements for FM radio, interference is deemed not to exist. I don’t think the kid knows how to pick a frequency.

    Also the kid at the very least should have gotten NAVCOM approval since he is so close to an airport.

    The golden rule of pirate broadcasting is do not cause interference to other spectrum users.

    • gordon says:

      I’m sure that 91.9 is NOT the best frequency at that location. If you follow Industry Canada’s separation requirements for FM radio, interference is deemed not to exist.

      But there’s that nagging issue that he is interfering with licensed spectrum users in the vicinity of his transmitter — CBC has a video report demonstrating this.

      The kid, at the very least, should have gotten an FM broadcast license from Industry Canada before powering up his transmitter. And when Industry Canada came along and said to cease and desist, he should have.

      • Jan Pachul says:

        The regs say interfence is “deemed not to exist” IF the frequency meets the
        separation requirements. I’m sure 91.9 does not meet IC FM radio separation requirements hence interference to CBC. It could be there is NO frequency available that has the required separation.

        I agree he should have stopped when IC showed up. There is no benefit to pissing off IC Spectrum Management. Maybe the kid should work on an amateur radio license so he knows something about rf and transmitting.

        • gordon says:

          I think IC was accepting applications for two slots in Ottawa sometime in the last year and there were ten applications. I don’t know if this means the area is saturated, or if they were only considering two slots.

          • William says:

            There were two spots (barely) left on the dial. After an appeal to cabinet, some intra-corporate shuffling of frequencies at Astral-owned stations in Ottawa and Pembroke, and an unprecedented approval by IC of a second adjacent FM allocation, three were squeezed in.

            The Ottawa, Smiths Falls and Buckingham markets currently have 29 authorized FM signals, including the three just licensed. Even if we moved EVERY current frequency in Eastern Ontraio to allow for third adjacent spacing (assuming that is even possible), the most that could be squeezed in would be 4 more. And that wouldn’t leave much room for stations in adjacent markets like Montreal, Kingston, Brockville, Arnprior.


  1. gordon.dewis.ca | Industry Canada needs to fine the Saadés and confiscate their transmitter immediately (December 07, 2009 @ 12:50)
  2. gordon.dewis.ca | It’s time to shut down your pirate radio station, Jayhaed (July 09, 2010 @ 02:58)

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